Sticky Fingers For San Pedro Court Clerk
There are only a few discreet ways to cheat the government treasury - but police allege that the an employee at the San Pedro Magistrate Court took her graft game to a whole other level: she doctored duplicate receipts, writing in another figure, and the difference disappeared.
That's why 23 year old Diedra Casanova today appeared in the very same court she worked at, where she was arraigned on five counts of forgery.
According to Police, the resident Magistrate Patricia Arana was alerted to irregularities with Revenue Collectors' Receipts at the end of October.
That is when an investigation was launched by the Auditor General's Department and it found that $6,090.00 Belize dollars had been pinched from the government purse.
Here's how it was done: the revenue collector at court would receive monies such as payments of fines and issue a proper receipt. But then, the collector wrote in a lesser figure on the duplicate receipt that goes in the record.
For example, Revenue Collectors Receipt #1011241 dated 22nd March 2010 was changed from $1,000.00 to $500.00 dollars; another one in July, 2010 was changed from $205.00 to $105.00 dollars; another in October 2010 from $605.00bcy to $305.00 dollars. It went on and on like that, throughout 2010; a total of 20 receipts were altered from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of 500 dollars. The money taken was from payment of court fines, compensation to third parties and confiscation of bail.
A dangerous game, because the person paying the court fine, and compensation to third parties was none the wiser and rightly believed they had paid the full amount - matter of fact they had a receipt to prove it! But the official record showed that they paid less, from a few hundred dollars to five hundred dollars - leaving the clueless citizen still liable! Casanova, was only charged for five of these instances totaling $1,600 dollars. According to the San Pedro Sun, she received bail of three thousand dollars for each count, amounting to eighteen thousand dollars.
The Sun reports that Casanova must surrender all travel documents to police and is barred from visiting the San Pedro Magistrate Court or having contact with any prosecutor involved in the trial. She reappears in court on December 20th.